The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has questioned the methodology adopted by Amnesty International (AI) in arriving at its conclusion that Nigeria’s security forces committed crimes under international laws while restoring peace in the South East region.
This, according to BMO, is because the position of the global rights watchdog is at variance with the preponderance of views about recent security operations in the region.
In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, the group said that allegations of excessive force and repression were part of an ongoing campaign of calumny against the Nigerian authorities.
“It is so characteristic of Amnesty International to justify its serial claims of human rights violation against the country’s security agencies and government, so we are not surprised to read its latest effort to denigrate the country.
“There has never been a time in recent history that the Nigerian office of the global rights body has had any good thing to say about Nigeria, and it is against this backdrop that we view its response to the return of peace in a region where militia men, otherwise known as unknown gunmen, had been on rampage.
“We cannot recall seeing any report or statement from Amnesty on blatant violation of human rights of people in the South East by those non-state actors who were launching daily attacks on security and public infrastructure, and committing extra-judicial killings.
“At a point, socio-economic activities were crippled by pro-secession agitators who had the audacity to attack police stations and one correctional facility, as well as the residence of a sitting Governor and killed at least 100 security personnel .
“It was usual then to see viral videos of those attacks on the internet while Amnesty International which has a strong social media presence did not see or say anything.
“This was before the military and an elite Police unit were called in to restore peace after local authorities had exhausted all options to calm things down.
“We dare say that there is no way security operatives would have been successful without neutralising so-called unknown gunmen and making arrests which were done in line with best practices in an active security operation”.
BMO added that it was instructive that the Amnesty International’s report was issued at a time that the main sociocultural group in the region, Ohaneze Ndigbo, had hailed the Army authorities for restoring peace in South East Nigeria.
“We noticed that the group relied almost entirely on what it described as eyewitness accounts, but we make bold to say that those were either phantom witnesses or tales based on rumours.
“If not, how could it accuse security agencies of being ruthless, yet said in its report that military personnel raided three communities in Anambra State and arrested 20 individuals in reaction to the killing of five soldiers?
“How would sweeping arrests, without any record of destruction of homes by the military, be described as ruthless or excessive?
“We wonder why those who put the report together did not reach out to identifiable community leaders or to the agencies in order to confirm those claims of excessive use of force.
“Again, If indeed security operatives were ruthless or used excessive force, there is no way a respectable group like the Ohaneze Ndigbo would publicly commend the agencies.
“So we not only question the methodology adopted by the human rights watchdog, we are convinced that its report cannot pass a simple test of integrity”.
The group therefore urged members of the public and the international community to ignore Amnesty International’s claim that security operatives used ‘ruthless, excessive force’ in the South East.